All-girl team qualifies for national debate competition
Anna Page and Isabella Nibley qualified for the national debate competition after taking the state tournament. (Alex Nibley/Parent)
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Despite having few resources at their disposal, a pair of middle school girls earned a spot at a national debate competition after taking first at the state competition on April 30. Isabella Nibley and Anna Page of Draper Park Middle School headed out to Birmingham, Alabama at the end of June to compete against other middle school and high school teams.
“It was really exciting. We actually never thought we would place at state considering we’re such an underfunded team. The programs at other schools like Roland Hall have tons of teachers cheering them on. But we just had our coach and six other kids with us,” Isabella said. “It was really exciting when they called our name for first place.”
Winning the top spot at state and qualifying to go to nationals was an impressive feat considering the school doesn’t even have a debate program. The girls were trying to get funding to even be able to attend the national competition.
“We’re trying to get funding for it because our school isn’t willing to fund any of it. They’re not even paying for our coach anymore,” Isabella said. “They won’t even pay for a classroom anymore for after school. We literally sit in the hallway on the ground. We’re trying to get funding so we’re able to go.”
According to Isabella, the way the debate competitions work in middle school is there are three tournaments in the fall that work as practice competitions. Then the actual tournaments start in the fall, beginning with the district-wide competition. If a team places in the top 20 percent at the district competition, they qualify to compete at state. If a team places at state, they earn a spot at the national competition.
“At district, we took the tournament. All of the teams placed first, second and third,” Isabella said. “At state, we were the only kids who took first. We also took speaker awards.”
According to Anna, the duo debated on the subject of relations with China during the state competition.
“It was set up where we would have four rounds and we’d go up against a different set of two and each round, we’d be assigned a position,” Anna said. “We had four rounds and it was determined on how well you spoke, which you got a point for and if you won the round, you got a point. Whoever had the most points at the end placed and was given a prize.”
Anna said she was really shocked when she and Isabella came in first at sate because she wasn’t expecting them to do as well as they did.
“I was expecting, even if we did our very best, we’d come in third or fourth because we didn’t place at state last year and I didn’t feel we were as prepared as the other teams were,” Anna said. “I was surprised and very happy because we had worked super hard. (Going to nationals), it’s my reward for working hard that we get to go to nationals and compete and do what I love to do.”
The pair worked through the Canyons School District Foundation to fund their trip to nationals, and set up a GoFundMe page. They also asked local businesses to contribute to their trip.
“We want to thank everyone for their support in helping us,” Anna said. “We couldn’t have done it without the school’s faculty and our coach and our parents who support us to be able to do what we love.”